Baker Dam fish collector yields encouraging results

The Skagit Valley Herald reports on Puget Sound Energy’s new fish collector on Baker Lake:

The new floating surface collector, which sits on Baker Lake about 100 feet from Upper Baker Dam, so far has captured about 235,000 juvenile sockeye, called smolt, during this year’s downstream migration. The out-migration this year is on pace to be the highest on record since 1990, when the sockeye population began to rebound from the brink of extinction.

The Swinomish Tribe, one of several local tribes that value salmon both culturally and economically, also is encouraged by the early numbers.

The Swinomish Tribe was one of several parties that crafted the settlement agreement PSE submitted with its application for a new federal license for the Baker River Hydroelectric Project. That license is still pending but should be issued later this year, according to PSE officials.

“The tribes have been looking forward to new fish passage facilities at Baker Lake for more than a decade and spent a lot of effort over the past seven years working on the design with PSE. It is gratifying to see the collector in place and catching fish,” Swinomish attorney Marty Loesch said in an e-mail.

“The system will require further adaptation in the off season, but for now it appears to be collecting fish in large numbers without injury,” Loesch added.